File picture: Dean Hutton

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday called for action against those responsible for the collapse of the Gupta-owned Optimum Coal Mine in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

Employees protested outside the mine on Monday over unpaid wages as the company failed to pay their wages since September after Tegeta Exploration and Resources, which bought the mine from Glencore in 2016, was placed under business rescue earlier this year. 

Optimum has also failed to supply Eskom with coal since March, and as a result the power utility has a serious coal shortage with a number of power plants having less than 10 days of coal left.

DA leaders Natasha Mazzone, Geordin Hill-Lewis and Jane Sithole visited the mine on Friday and engaged with the local community of Pullens Hope to see first-hand the effects of unpaid wages.

In a statement, Mazzone said that the employees of Optimum were the victims who were suffering the effects of state capture in silence.

"Tegeta has pillaged Optimum. There are workers here that haven't been paid for two to three months, we've seen retrenchments of workers and the country is experiencing load-shedding because coal is not being mined. We are here because Optimum Coal Mine is the face of state capture," Mazzone said.

"December will be the third month with no pay for these workers and the consequences of this extend far beyond a barren Christmas dinner table and a silent new year spent indoors. It is also of utmost importance, that these rich fat cats are brought to book -- they have been earning money while workers who have done their jobs diligently have not been paid."

Mazzone said those implicated in corruption should not be allowed to get off scot-free, whilst the victims of their crimes suffer in silence, adding that her party will raise this in Parliament in a bid to represent those who are suffering as a result of state capture.

African News Agency (ANA)